12 Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis You Might Be Ignoring

While there is no remedy for RA, it can be managed with medicines and techniques. And the sooner you take the steps you need to take to protect your joints, the better. Treatments have come a long way, allowing many RA patients to avoid joint surgeries and systemic complications that were once commonplace.

In several respects, rheumatoid arthritis differs from your grandmother’s age-related arthritis as an inflammatory disease. Take an appointment with a rheumatologist for an examination if you have any of these key signs and symptoms for more than six weeks.

1. Joint discomfort

3D render of a medical image of close up of ankle bone in foot

Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by pain as an early and defining symptom. It may impact any joint on the body, normally on both sides. The tiny joints of the fingers, wrists, and ankles are where it usually starts. Your elbows, hips, and knees can also be in pain.

2. Rigidity

Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by stiffness that lasts for at least half an hour. Most people are stiff when they first wake up, but some people are stiff all day, according to Dr. Bykerk. Others, according to Dr. Bykerk, report that their morning stiffness subsides throughout the day but returns in the evening. Also long periods of sitting can cause joints to stiffen, a condition known as “gelling.”

3. Swelling

RA patients may be bothered by swelling, which usually affects the wrists and finger joints closest to the hand, long before it is noticed by most. Dr. Shlotzhauer explains, “A individual sitting at home will feel swelling, but the doctor looking at it does not see it, even if you [the patient] feel it.” Do you have any doubts that the swelling is all in your head? Put on a pair of shoes and see what happens. “If your forefeet are swollen, you might have trouble fitting your shoes,” Dr. Bykerk says.

4. Warmth radiating

Dr. Bykerk points out that inflamed joints can be warm to the touch, which isn’t always noticeable. Dr. Bykerk recommends putting the back of your hand or fingertips on the joint and then on a nearby bone if you feel warm. If the skin over the nearby bone is warmer than the joint, it could be a sign of RA, particularly if it’s followed by other symptoms. “When there is warmth, there is usually a sense of discomfort, as though you can’t completely bend or straighten the joint,” Dr. Bykerk explains.

5. Disfunction of the joints

RA can make it difficult to carry out daily tasks, particularly if you’re having a flare-up. Dr. Bykerk states why you might have difficulty slicing meat, opening a milk carton, or typing on a keyboard. In case you have problems with your knees, you can find it difficult to climb stairs. Dr. Shlotzhauer experienced the same thing. She claims there was a time when she wanted to use a chair lift.

6. Tiredness

Almost anyone who has RA suffers from extreme exhaustion. It’s a typical symptom of a variety of autoimmune diseases. The good news, according to Dr. Bykerk, is that once the illness is under control, the exhaustion goes away. People who put off getting help are setting themselves up for problems because fatigue can become chronic.

7. Feeling like you’ve been bitten by a bug

RA is more than just pain in the joints. Since you’re exhausted and achy, you may feel like you’re coming down with a virus. Dr. Shlotzhauer says, “It’s a feeling of being sick.” “The individual will state that they are not feeling well and that something is wrong.” If you’ve been sick for more than six weeks, you should see a doctor for a diagnosis.

8. Muscle loss

RA causes muscle weakness, which is a significant complication. When researchers from the University of Pennsylvania compared CT scans of people with RA to healthy people, they discovered “major deficits in muscle mass and muscle density.” It’s important to notify a doctor if you experience a loss in muscle mass or a noticeable reduction in strength. Muscle loss can strike RA patients within a year of diagnosis, according to Dr. Bykerk.

9. Depression

Rheumatoid arthritis is no exception when it comes to depression and chronic conditions. Depression is two to four times more common in RA patients than in the general population, according to reports. However, unlike certain other disorders, depression is more often an early symptom of RA than anything that occurs as a result of a long-term health problem.

10. Nodules on the skin

Firm, fleshy lumps appear underneath the skin in around one out of every four people with RA. These so-called nodules are most commonly found on the body’s bony pressure points, such as the knuckles, elbows, and feet. Although these protrusions are usually harmless, she states in her book that they can cause discomfort, limit function, or become infected. “There is evidence that the occurrence of nodules has decreased in recent decades as the magnitude of RA has decreased,” says the researcher.

11. Irritation of the eyes or mouth

People with rheumatoid arthritis can develop symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that attacks the body’s moisture-producing glands. (It’s known as secondary Sjogren’s in people with RA.) People with secondary Sjogren’s disease can experience inflammation of the tear and salivary glands in addition to the classic RA symptoms. According to Dr. Shlotzhauer, this may cause eye and mouth dryness. However, it is much less severe than primary Sjogren’s syndrome.

12. Harm to the nerves, skin, or organs

When people think of RA, they usually think of joint problems, but the disease can also affect other parts of the body. Skin ulcers can form when inflammation attacks your blood vessels, for example. You can feel numbness or weakness in your limbs if it affects your nerves.

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